Health alert as superbug found in hospital water tanks

PATIENTS across Scotland are at risk of picking up a deadly superbug growing in hospital drinking water tanks.

All of the country’s health boards have been alerted about the problem by the Scottish Government’s infection control agency, Health Protection ¬≠Scotland, after its estates department discovered the bug called pseudomonas, which is resistant to penicillin, in two hospitals in Fife.

NHS Fife said no-one had suffered ailments as a result of the contamination at St Andrews Community Hospital and the new Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

The two incidents were three years apart – the St Andrews case happened in 2010 – but the common problem prompted the infection control alert.

HPS has said it is also informing water tank manufacturers because the contamination in both cases, which was discovered during routine inspections, was connected to the design that was used by at least three manufacturers.

Boards have been told to inspect suspect water tanks for the same type of structure and replace it with a new frame.

Pseudomonas infection can manifest itself as a fever and cause pneumonia, and it is potentially lethal to people who are weakened by illness. It has been reported that it was connected to the deaths of a number of premature babies in England.

A spokesman for NHS Fife said: “We can confirm that following routine testing procedures higher than anticipated levels of bacteria were observed within a tank at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, this year. The type of bacteria found are commonly present within water supplies.

“Immediate action was taken in line with recognised procedures to minimise any risk and ensure the continued safe supply of water, with minimum disruption to clinical services and hospital users.”

The spokesman confirmed no harm was caused to any patients, staff or visitors, and added: “Similar routine testing in 2010 also observed increased levels of bacteria at St Andrews Community Hospital. As a result of these two instances and the similarity in the tanks’ construction, NHS Fife alerted National Services Scotland.”


Read more (Source): Herald Scotland